Label: Season of Mist Band: Sylvaine Origin: Norway
Myrkur has opened the floodgates it sometimes seems of more ambient, folk and soundscape oriented dark music, but maybe I’m just imagining that Sylvaine is of the same cut of cloth, but definitely aiming for a more shoegazy sound on her second album ‘Wistful’, which is out on Seasons of Mist.
The term doomgaze has always been a bit peculiar to me, but listening to this album I can see where it comes from and how it fits in with the compositions of the fey-like Norse lady. The artwork also speaks of the musical experience, with a foggy painting of a natural setting. Misty in the early morning light, amidst the trees. Atleast, that is how I picture it.
The sound of Sylvaine is deeply melancholic, regardless if its a single piano playing or a barrage of guitars. The songs build up rather gently, offering a glance into the unknown at first, before rising up and fully overwhelming you as a listener. The dreamy voice of Sylvaine lures you into the mist, into the swampland. Throw in some comparisons, like Sinead O’Connor‘s rendition of ‘The Foggy Dew’ or maybe even Sigur Rós, it is all in there.
Once there, the heavier sounds start. Even wild schrieks can be heard on ‘Earthbound’, never follow the faeries… They’ll lure you to the waters and the wild, but what for? Interesting fact, on this album the multi-instrumentalist gets help from Stéphane ‘Neige’ Paut (Alcest), which might have a more significant impact than you’d think. Shoegaze is a term that doesn’t fit anymore for music like this, it moves on to something between ambient, black metal and folk with a hint of doom. Doomgaze just feels too hip sounding.
The listener of this album will feel as if lost in the mist, trying to grasp at the essenence of Sylvaine’s music, but never fully reaching it. You feel confused, lost, introspective even and weary by the end. It’s so dense with atmospheric elements that sometimes the fog just too overwhelming. The rare part where you get some direct contact with the vocals, is like a sunray piercing the roof of leaves and illuminating for a brief moment the shining truth, the angelic voice and those moments alone make this album such a mesmerizing experience.
Label: independent Band: MASTER BOOT RECORD Origin: Italy
Somewhere in Rome a rogue computer has started producing or assimilating heavy metal and chiptune music. Yes, all gates are open now, with the arrival of Master Boot Record, which/who dropped 4 records in a short amount of time. I decided to check out ‘C:\>CHKDSK /F’ as a topic for a bit of writing, because it just souned weird.
The occult imagery is blended with DOS-screens and circuit boards, that is pretty cool. Also, MASTER BOOT RECORD has been doing some stuff for a while, covering hit songs like the soundtrack of old DOS games. Think of DOOM, Syndicate and Turrican. I do suppose that some people think this is silly, but if you’ve grown up in that time and age, you know how awesome this record is to me.
So what you get is pretty awesome. Remember how good those game soundtracks, even in midi could be? Everyone can hum along with the Mario and Zelda tune, right? Well, imagine combining that with guitars, bass and drums, to create a driven, electro rock sensation! The typical thing about the game music is that it’s always pushing you forward, it’s energetic and upbeat, so this is one whole record of invigorating music that easily fades to the background, while you engage in the mundane tasks.
On ‘Config.Sys’ there’s even a bit of classical music, played in midi with raw, shredding guitars and then suddenly picking up the synthwave beat. It’s just all there, everything blended to it’s maximum effect of awesome. The superfast riffing, mixed with the midi sound, it just works great. Sure, this is probably one of the most geeky things to enjoy, but the way the record is made is just incredibly catchy and captivating.
I may not know the exact words to describe this record, but it’s the combination of oldschool gaming sensation with the balls to the wall approach of heavy metal and that works like a charm. Enjoy the other records of MASTR BOOT RECORD for free on Bandcamp!
In this 20th edition of books that I read, which is quite a few over time, I’m discussing Dayal Patterson, R.A. Salvatore (again), Gene Simmons and Marco Martens, who all wrote cool books that I enjoyed.
Dayal patterson – Black Metal: Into The Abyss Cult Never Dies Productions
I’m a huge fan of the work by Dayal Patterson, who manages to captivate the black metal scene in his own unique way. Name it scholarly or even ethnographic at times, the man lives and breathes black metal and manages to track down the most reclusive strangers for brilliant interviews. It sometimes seems that the weirder you think they are, the more normal they seem in retrospect. In this edition of the series, Dayal digs up some old bones in Poland for example, finding the roots of that strange black metal scene and continues to search for answers.
I’ve mentioned part of the Polish scene that gets attention in this book, but more or less the outsiders like Stigmata, Furia and others. Another element are the Norwegian bands of the latter generation, that return to a more purist approach, like 1349 and One Tail, One Head. The best part is how open Patterson gets to talk to some of these artists, of which some never did an interview before. It opens up a scene that has been shrouded in mystery and trust me… It doesn’t take away any of the magic.
Gene Simmons – KISS and Make up Crown Publishing
Gene Simmons is an enigma, a character larger than life and hated and reviled as much as he is loved and praised. Gene is a straight shooter and always speaks the truth. No surprise then, that his book details his humble beginnings with as much detail as his later sexual adventures, poverty, riches and glamour. It also features a lot of history of Kiss that before was hidden behind the paint and more or less a mystery. We’ve moved on to a time where things have aged enough for some of the truth to come out. After the accusing books by Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, the book of Simmons feels much less cool and more raw and honest.
Why does that matter? Because for example Frehley, whose book I read, is glorifying his own behavior most of the time and rarely speaks with any warmth of the bandmembers he shared the stage with. Specially Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are depicted as money grubbing monsters, regardles of the fact that Gene Simmons saved his life. Simmons seems to lament the path of the others and speaks as candidly about his own failings and shortcomings, even insecurities and such as about others. This is a book of a sober man, who is honest, but that’s my opinion. It also is a really kick ass story, isn’t it?
R.A. Salvatore – The Sellswords (Servant of the Shard, Promise of the Witch King, Road of the Patriarch)
It’s surprisingly nice sometimes to take a side step in a long series, and so it is with the Forgotten Realms ‘Legend Of Drizzt’. In the short series titled ‘The Sellswords’ we focus on the characters of Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle. Two oppertunists, who venture to a new land to reap the fruits of whoevers labour after daring conflicts with the mercenary bands Bregan D’arte. It’s a great bit of reading and a completely different kind of adventure with more depth and knowledge about the characters you might loathe or secretly love already by this point and will get to know and understand much better by the time you finish.
During the first part, Jarlaxle gets challenged for his leadership of Bregan D’Arte, so he has to flee with Entreri. During their flight they meet up with Cadderly (who has met Drizzt and company before, but is known from the Cleric Quartet). In the second part we fnd the duo in the Bloodstone lands, fighting with, alongside and against King Gareth Dragonsbane in an attempt to gain riches while doing rightious things (known from the Bloodstone Pass series from the eighties). In the final part we travel to Memnon with Artemis Entreri to find his past and illuminate the merciless killer he has become, where we will find something new and surprising in the character. A lovely journey for the reader.
Marco Martens – Rubberboot
It’s only a little booklet, but in it we find stories that are recognizable and funny, sometimes touching and familiar. Marco Martens used to be active in hiphop and now in a sort of spoken word setting. Poetry is also part of this short bundle. An enjoyable, though brief read that you can probably still pick up somewhere if you’re lucky. If not, than you don’t.
Marco Martens is a talented writer and story teller. This book is a small display of his talents, but I hope it won’t be his last endeavour in the written word. Like his record ‘Ieder Huis Is Uit Vertrekken Gebouwd’ (out on Bastaard Platen), his writing is a mixture of humor, nostalgia and grief, all packed up into a nice cocktail that sticks. You can read it here.
Guyana is a place you glance over easily on a map. That’s not something I’m saying to diminish the place, but it’s really a tiny bit of the South-American continent on the north. Part of a few former French, English and Dutch colonies, and these young states have developed a culture of their own.
After a turbulent history as a Dutch colony, later as an English one, slavery and a serious influx of migrants from India, the country has become a nation on its own in 1966. The history of countries like Guyana and the neighbouring Suriname connect them to the old ‘motherland’ and make them a melting pot of cultures.
I e-mailed with Gavin Mendonca and Gavin Singh on behalf of Feed the Flames, a band from Georgetown. We talked about how they want to put heavy metal on the map in their country, punkrock, the Caribbean scene and Creole culture. Enjoy reading about this intriguing place where heavy metal is just gaining a foothold.
Hello, could you kindly introduce yourselves and the band?
Gavin Mendonca (GM): I am the bassist of Feed the Flames. Feed The Flames is a five piece Guyanese Heavy Metal Band, members are as follows:
Gavin Persaud: Vocals
Gavin Singh: Guitar
Gavin Mendonca: Bass
Emilio Martins: Guitar
Nicholas Chung: Drums
How did Feed The Flames get started?
GM: Feed The Flames was formed about 8 years ago. The founding members are Gavin Singh and Gavin Persaud, I joined the band about 5 years ago as bassist.
Gavin Sing (GS): FTF was founded by myself and former vocalist Gavin Lee Persaud (his work is on the recordings). We were close friends who just loved the music, and back then still learning; this was around early 2007. I remembered we were listening to a Black Sabbath album when the idea came up to start a band, however we had no musical skills with the exception of a bit of music theory I learnt in school. Sometime after that we both bought cheap acoustic guitars and started the journey, spending the next year learning to play and holding the strings.
In 2008 we met Persaud’s old school friend who had just returned from the USA and had vocal training, so we immediately appointed him as front man. Through some friends we also met Zaheer Imran Baksh (former guitarist) and Nicholas J. Chung (current Drummer). After all being acquainted the first full line up was formed and officially founded on the 26th May 2008, Guyana’s independence date. At that we had little or no music skills, and so the journey began to learn and grow.
How did you get to the name Feed the Flames? And how would you describe your particular style and themes?
GM: Gavin Singh will have to tell you about the origin of the name. Our style is very reminiscent of Thrash Metal… it’s our favourite type of metal so there’s a heavy influence there. Guyanese Thrash Metal! Main themes include rebellion, and fighting for what you believe in.
GS: The name was actually presented by the first vocalist, Persaud’s friend, Quacy Ayotek. It was supposed to represent the idea of keeping the passion of the music alive in your heart, hence feed the flames. The style and themes have somewhat changed over the years since for about half our age was just about learning. One thing is for sure – hard, in your face metal was and is what we strive for, not only for its composition but most importantly the message of truth.
You mention you’re heavily inspired by various bands like Zeppelin, The Ramones and Megadeth and more. Which bands truly inspired you guys individually and what did you take from them? Also which ones got you into metal in the first place?
GM: For me, personally, my main influence as a Rock Musician is punk rock. The Ramones played a big part in me first picking up the guitar and learning to play. I was also the guitarist/bassist/vocalist of a local punk rock band which is now defunct.
I was never really a Heavy Metal guy, but after meeting the guys in FTF and being invited to join the band, I picked up the music and it has been a big part of my life since. My main Heavy Metal influences are Megadeth, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Lamb of God, Lamb of God especially, as our music is similar to theirs. The old school thrash bands are where most of our inspiration comes from, since we used so cover a lot of their music starting out.
GS: For myself, in the early days, the older bands really had me. Led Zeppelin really stood out to me mainly because of that unique tone/sound they had- you don’t hear anything like it anymore. I love what page did on II and III with the odd tunings, it was as though there were no rules but still sounds so great and gives me chills up to now. I guess I took that unorthodox approach to my writing. Metallica’s ‘Ride the Lightning’ was and still is one of my all-time favs. This really got me hooked and the list that follows is endless. I’ve listened to pretty much any style since. There were also a few modern bands at that time like Slipknot and Killswitch Engage. It was a combination of all these that got me into writing metal.
How did you get in touch with punkrock at the time?
GM: I got into punkrock after coming out of High School. I started to listen to rock music, and personally – I was very rebellious. I didn’t like being told what to do, I didn’t like being told that I Can’t do something, I didn’t like people telling me what to believe in, and I certainly didn’t like people telling me how to live my life.
So I don’t know if I found punkrock, or maybe punkrock found me. Because who I was, was punkrock. So I fell in love with the music, the fast drums, the noisy guitars, the shouting! Oi!
You guys are, according to your bio, currently working on a full length. Can you say a bit about that and what it’ll be like?
GM: We currently have 4 demo songs recorded, 2 more to go, for a total of 6 original songs. Here’s our most recent release, ‘ Firefight’, with a homemade video from our trip to Trinidad recently, where we performed with Lynchpin, winners of the first ever Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean.
GS: Well, it’s long overdue since some of these songs go back three or even four years. You will hear the evolution of this band on one album over five years.
What’s the writing and recording process like for Feed the Flames, what roles does every member have?
GM: The main composers are Gavin Singh and Emilio Martins. They come up with guitar riffs and patters and the general structure of the song… the drums and bass then add the glue. We all contribute to lyrics, and the overall structure of the songs.
Recording is fun. We do it ourselves in our band room. We invested in all the right software and equipment to be self-sufficient… a true ‘do it yourself’ band.
GS: Most of the composing or at least the concept comes from me. I usually would transcribe my ideas into Guitar Pro and then build on that idea from there. I would then play that to the guys and we’d start stripping away, adding or just doing it all over. Everyone has their own input and their own idea on songs. We just star with a concept and start jamming so the song finds its own identity through that.
I read that your music was featured in a film titled ‘A Bitter Lime’. How did that come about?
GS: A few years ago we were introduced through a sponsor to Max Orter, the producer/writer of the film. Gavin Mendonca remained close with him and even worked on the film itself. Earlier this year he came back to Guyana to do the finishing touches before its launch and needed a place to stay. He poured his money into the project and was low on cash, so we offered him to crash in the band room. In return he offered to add our music to the film.
GM: ‘A Bitter Lime’ is a neo-drama filmed shot mostly in Guyana, written and directed by Max Orter, a great friend of the band. Max was visiting Guyana often and we met him a few years ago and became great friends. I helped him on the set of the film while it was being shot in Guyana, as Production Assistant. He offered to have our song featured in the film, as a gesture of kind faith, to allow the band to get some global exposure by being featured in an international film. It is a huge opportunity that we are very grateful for… especially since it starts the infamous ‘Skin Diamond’!
I’ve noticed that you are, atleast Gavin Mendonca, interested to an extent into Guyanese music and folklore. Is that something you try to somehow put into Feed the Flames or do you save it for the Creole Rock project?
GM: I have a solo project aside from Feed the Flames. Creole Rock is my own style of music, where I have fused Guyanese Folk Music, our creole culture and dialect, with Punk Rock, creating a truly unique sound. Whenever I have to perform live, FTF would accompany me. We have a side project called Outta Box Experience for occasions like these, where it’s not all about Heavy Metal, but alternative forms of Rock n’ Roll at public forums.
Can you elaborate a little on that Creole identity, what it is and what it means to you?
GM: The Creole Identity, to me, is who we are as Guyanese people. It is our culture, our use of the English language, our traditions and practices. Most importantly, the way we speak. Creolese is our ‘Native Tongue’ here in Guyana. It is a broken down version of Standard English.
I Do not want to go there – Me nah wan go deh
Hey boy! How are you doing ? – Ayyy bai ! wuh goin on deh ?
My name is Gavin, and I am from Guyana – Me name Gavin, and me come from Guyana.
Our native tongue, and our Guyanese accent, I believe, is one of the most unique in the world. When we have a real conversation you will see what I’m talking about.
How important is the own identity for you as Guyanese musicians? I’m also looking at the radio show I’ve seen posts about Guyanese music.
GM: Guyanese Identity is very important. We are one of only two active rock bands here in Guyana. Our scene is very small. So to stand out in the larger Caribbean Rock Scene, and more so the international Rock Scene, we have to maintain the fact that we are GUYANESE HEAVY METAL MUSICIANS… That’s what makes us most unique.
What would you say is typical Guyanese music?
GM: Traditional Guyanese music, the folk music, would include our Creolese music, it’s part of our roots.
Modern Guyanese music borrows from mostly American and Jamaican pop culture.
If a Guyanese artist stays true to his or her culture, you will always hear that Creolese influence in there for sure. There may be even a hint of Indian or African drums, steel pan and lots of lyrics about ‘mashing down the road’.
So, would you guys like to say a bit about your concert in the national stadium? How significant is it for Guyanese metal?
GM: Our concert at the National Stadium was a milestone for the band, and for us as Musicians. We performed at a concert that was in celebration of our country’s 50th anniversary as an Independent Nation. We did not play ‘Heavy Metal’… it was more Creole Rock … but we played as Heavy as we possibly could. A huge accomplishment for a Rock band here in Guyana. We were well received by the mass audience.
GS: Although we didn’t get to go full metal for that gig, it was a huge step for Guyanese metal. No other rock band had ever performed there, so we achieved an exposure for the music and scene that no one else had done for a while. The thing is, it wasn’t like a rock party; there were hardly anyone that I knew there that even like rock, much less metal. But when they heard our set it really opened their minds and heart. I still can’t believe the reception we had; I even met people in the streets that came up to me excited asking for more. They didn’t appreciate it before but now they do!
Can you elaborate a bit on the history of metal in your country? What bands were significant and why?
GM: Heavy Metal was very popular in Guyana in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s… The scene was thriving, with top local bands like Burning Bush, Pearls To Swine, Stone Blind, Struck Root, Et Tu Brutus – all who contributed to what Rock n’ Roll in Guyana is now. Most of the bands would have also ventured to Suriname, Trinidad and Brazil during their active years. Et Tu Brutus, the local veterans, have been active for almost 20 years now. The other bands have split over the years due to various reasons. Et Tu Brutus remains as the band that paved the way for FTF. Midnite Mars, a more recent band is currently building their rep here in Guyana.
GS: From what we’ve learnt from the older folks, metal has been around in Guyana since the 80’s. At one point our scene was even more vibrant than our neighbours (it’s the total opposite now). One of the biggest names to come out of that time was Pearls to Swines. I’d say that band made the most impact on the history of rock n’ roll in general for Guyana. I think its members still play in various bands around the world. This band is really important because they were A-class musicians and most bands that followed came around as an indirect or direct result of them.
There were a few other bands that weren’t so much metal that came out such as Burning Bush and Tech 21. However in the 90’s the first real heavy metal band came to being, and that was Et Tu Brutus. They paved the way for the younger bands which includes us. Still one of my own personal inspirations, this band still performs. They’re the veterans that kept the music alive in the country for a little over a decade, when no one else was doing it. Then we came along.
Did the music face any obstacles in your country? As in censorship on political or religious grounds?
GM: Rock Music is very underground in Guyana, and in this region. The airwaves are dominated by Soca, Chutney and Reggae … all which are Caribbean Music. Rock music is not very much accepted by the general public, as it is different in many ways.
It is hard to get airplay from just about all the radio stations and DJs… Because they believe it’s not what people want to hear… so… I create Radio Rock n’ Roll … so that Rock Music can be heard on Guyanese Radio every day.
Over the past year though, the public has been warming up to Feed the Flames, as we have been in the newspapers, and have made several public appearances recently. There is no moral war against Heavy Metal in Guyana. At least none that is stressed on. A few people might say things like it’s ‘devil music’ or that we’re destructive or something. But that hasn’t happened in a while, I don’t think it even happens any more.
GS: The typical Guyanese wouldn’t want to hear metal on the radio, hence that’s why Gavin Mendonca is the only radio-dj to do this. When we started as a band, even before Gavin M joined, we would try to record an original song and every studio turned us down or tried to rip us of. Just because of the stigma the music carries. Mainstream music here is really just Jamaican and American pop music.
In the 90’s a few students of the University of Guyana were accused of practicing witchcraft and satanic rituals. Some of these students of course were identified with the music and as such it caused a stigma. Also around that time, there was a popular rock club that got shut down after a patron got stabbed. This pretty much sealed the fate a rock and people’s perception of it. Literally killed it and kept it dead for years.
Do you have any real heavy metal gathering places, like venues, bars, record stores or rehearsal spaces? How readily available is any material and music to you guys?
GM: Unfortunately, we don’t have a place where usual gatherings happen. The only time a rock event/party/show/concert happens is when we decide to throw one ourselves. Back in the day, there was a place called Sidewalk Cafe, which was the CBGB’s of Guyana, but that eventually closed down. Live Rock n’ Roll happens as often as we perform.
GS: As the years go by the hanging spot changes. There a few pool bar that can be identified as rock bars. There is one in particular that everyone calls the rock bar ‘Nial’s bar’. The owner’s brother is also a musician and the owner himself is into the music, huge fan of it. So we do shows there every couple months. In terms of music material…internet. Everyone here downloads, for years it was the surest way. Either that or cheap bootleg and that’s if you’re lucky to find any type of rock. Nowadays though, people do order albums if we want the original.
What can you tell about the scene in Guyana? I suppose its similarly to the Suriname one very mixed. What sort of unity does it have?
GM: The scene in Guyana is very small… At the average gig, about 60 – 100 people would show up, sometimes less. At a big gig, for example when Lips Stick from Suriname came to perform, we had about 300 people. The diehard fans are always around to support. There is a small group of rock enthusiasts who are very close knitted and support the scene always.
GS: It’s pretty much the same in terms of people; spans across all class, race, age or creed. Although very small the folks of the scene are very friendly (for the most). It’s not as vibrant as su though. Moshing and so forth doesn’t really happen, unless it’s the musicians themselves.
You’ve taken part in the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean, can you tell a bit about that experience?
GM: We had submitted our application for the event, but were not selected to compete. We still decided to drive to Suriname to attend the venue, and meet everyone and all the bands. Jerry Orie is a great friend of mine, and I support all of his shows as much as I could. I was lucky enough to serve as the first every Stage Hand for the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean, alongside Jochen. An experience I am truly grateful for.
The overall experience was AWESOME. It probably was the biggest Rock event to happen in the Caribbean. We went there to network with the other bands, and two months later – we found ourselves in Trinidad performing with the winners, Lynchpin, and third place finalists – This Will Be No More from Aruba.
GS: Though we didn’t make it to the top five for the Caribbean to compete, it was a great experience. Some of us went to visit the event in Suriname, which was a wicked road trip by itself. The best of the Caribbean under one roof was an incredible experience, it’s the first time that happens and it was great to rub shoulders with some of the best n the world too. The band Taipan performed as well, who have worked with members from Megadeth and even Nine Inch Nails I think. It was one long, drunk weekend.
I understand from the chat with Luguber from Suriname that the metal battle is prompting more unity in the Caribbean scene. Do you guys feel that too and how does that work out?
GM: Luguber is AWESOME ! Shavero and I actually performed together in one-night band at one of Jerry Orie’s events – we formed a Punk Band called ‘Punk As Fuck!‘ for one night only, on the same stage as Disquiet. We have been developing a relationship with the Suriname Rock Scene since 2012, they are awesome and very friendly. A family. And we are happy to be a part of it. We have made great friends in the Surinamese Band – Morrighon, who performed in Guyana, and we performed with them in Suriname as well. We then made a huge link with Trinidad, where we have made new friends as well. Together we all are moving forward as ONE giant Caribbean Rock Scene.
GS: Ah It is! Back home people are stoked about this. It would be great if both bands travel forth and back to each other with fans and create a big network. I think it might be happening. We’ve also had the opportunity to perform in Trinidad a few weeks aback and it’s booked for next year April. We might be going to Suriname later this year as well and bands are willing to travel here. The Metal Battle surely has stirred the pot and turned heads.
Which bands from Guyana and around should people check out and why?
GM: Feed The Flames is the future of Heavy Metal in Guyana. I definitely would advise you to follow us closely, our YouTube page, our Instagram, everything. We plan to make huge waves across the Caribbean, then to the rest of the world.
Et Tu Brutus is an awesome Guyanese band, with a great group of guys. They will actually be performing in Brazil this August. Aeons of Disorder are a great band from French Guyana and we had the pleasure to play with them three times. There Will Be No More from Aruba is a great band that was in the finals of the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean. We performed with them in Trinidad.
GS: Definitely Et Tu Brutus! Beside us, they are the only true metal band here. Also check out Pearl’s to swine, might be old but still awesome. Trinidad has some great bands to offer, like Lynchpin, who won the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean. Anti-Everything is a great punk band and there’s much more going on there like Spectral Vibes, Orange Sky, Black Rose, Side Kick Envy, and much more.
If Feed the Flames was a dish, what would it be and why?
GM: We’d be Cook Up, with a side of Pepper-Pot. These are two Guyanese dishes that are legendary in Guyana, and truly represent the diversity and heritage of our culture.
GS: Haha! From the top of my head I’d say a 7 curry, like what you might get at an Indian wedding. Mainly because of all the influences and different affinities that add up to make feed the flames.
What future plans does Feed the Flames have right now?
GM: We are finishing up the recording for our first album. We aim to get it released by the end of the year. We also plan on getting more gigs across the Caribbean so we can build our name even more. Then, Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean 2018. Winners. On to Germany from there.
GS: We’re aiming to write and record an entirely new album by mid next year. Also we host our own events in Guyana and one hope to bring the world here. Definitely writing and recording but also touring. We’ve never done that, so I suppose that’s the next big leap for us!
Label: Gilead Media Band: Mizmor Origin: United States
I’m a novice to certain local scenes, but sometimes things just hang together so tightly, that figuring out where things come from is tricky. Mizmor’s new album was mostly captivating my attention thanks to the amazing cover, with a huge floating mask. It appears slightly like something from the far east, but there’s also a universal element to it. Musically, this is an overwhelming experience for sure and the cover is bringing that too life.
That looming spectre seems to be something that the band shares with the affiliated Hell, where the entity of the music and the aesthetic become larger than the artist. A.L.N. started the band as Sorceres and later this morphed into Mizmor. A.L.N. is also active in Urzeit and plays in the live line-up of Hell (who crushed at Roadburn this year). All in all, a good resume for a bit of blistering black metal.
A piercing howl breaks through the misty darkness and unleashes a gargantuan sound of blistering black metal with a grinding sound of rhythm instruments. Harsh and deep vocal screams simply erupt and reign down on the listener as fierce abyssal hailstorms. It’s at those moments, when icy howls escape from A.N.L., frontman of Mizmor, that the band truly tickles those hairs on the back of your neck.
The slow, thrudging pace and the buzzing guitar sounds are rather uncanny for the listener, but the whole experienc is ment to be unnerving and different compared to the more traditional genre specific bands. The elements of doom and black metal are combined in an extremely efficient way. The slow, menacing progressions are terrifying and mighty. Big tapestries of distorted guitar, but then also the trickling acoustic elements.
Somewhere in between everything, this album offers a pure cathartic experience. The crawling pace, the deep abbyssal vocals and tormented screams are a true aural embodiment of hell. It pushes the envelope and is almost a soundscape of looming darkness to its perfection. The way a track like ‘Bask in the Lingering’ builds up and then winds down only to rise again is majestic. You just got to love this album.
Label: I, Voidhanger Records Band: Summit Origin: Italy
Metal can be a weird thing, which is definitely what these Italians are delivering on their debut album. It looks and feels like an ambient or electronic record, but it really has some harrowing passages and pounding sections that prove differently. It’s out for you to listen now and definitely for the more experienced ear a lust to witness.
Gabriele Gramaglia is the sole bandmember of Summit. His other project is the more bleak and heavy The Clearing Path, which plays more of an introverted, grim black metal. On this album he does everything by himself, offering something that he describes as progressive sludge that paints vistas of mountains and valleys, creating an overall overwhelming feel. There’s definitely something picturesque about the sound of Summit.
A sense of foreboding looms over the opening tones of ‘Hymn of the Forlorn Wayfarer’, which jangling guitars and a continuous pulsing build up by the rhythm section. It somehow disconnects you from reality and allows you to dream and imagine, but also pummels you relentlessly here and there. The artwork is also significantly different and evokes a more trancendental imagery.
Now, there’s something particular to the sound of the band, that really puts them in that post-metal corner of a Pelican. The languid passages more or less feel very postrocky, even bringing up a bit of Godspeed! You Black Emperor in their early days, like on ‘The Winds That Forestall Thy Return, Pt. I: A Gleaming Aurora In The Northern Skies’ (yeah, quite the title). Onwards then goes the album with gritty sludge, that is a bit like Neurosis for sure, but there’s more strangeness to offer.
‘Aeons Pass, Memories Don’t Fade’ is a repetitive ambient track, that may sound similar to the Burzum prison albums. Reverberating synthesizer tones, with drums on the background. It is a sound exemplary for the whole album, which features a a production that feels blunted in a sense, lacking the sharp edges. It’s so produced that it feels like an overall ambient-like album. It does truly help with that cosmic, cinematic feel as described by the bio, by stripping the sound from its earthy connotations. I think it’s a great record.
GildedLily released one of those albums that pushes the boundaries of the genre. The group from Barrie in Canada just released ‘Mongrel’s Light’ and it blew me away. It sure as hell is not casual listening.
There was a little bit of info to be found, but I was keen to find out more about this band and Andrew Helinski was keen to share, so I asked them a few questions about their band, the urban environment and Canadian metal (not referring to the hilarious Darkthrone song).
Who are Gilded Lily and how did you guys get together as a band? What other projects have you been involved in (musical or non-musical related to your art)?
Gilded Lily began in 2014 mostly out of an itch to create some in-your-face music. Don’t all young guys who aren’t good at sports want to be in a band? Jordi and I had both been in Swarms together before this, which had a more long-winded approach to song writing, and we wanted to try something that felt more immediate. Once we recruited Cameron we realized that the approach was different enough that it warranted another moniker- a clean slate entirely.
I wanted to ask about the name of the band, since it sounds rather different from the more conventional names. How did you come up with this name?
I came up with it, though it wasn’t my first choice. I had actually settled on the name Mongrel for a long while and about 2 months before the demo came out I saw a flyer for a show in New York for YellowEyes, and a new band was playing it called Mongrel. So I had to scramble a bit to come up with something new. We ended up going in the opposite direction, instead of trying to convey the ugliness of the band, I went with a name that means “to make something beautiful that is already beautiful.”
In the end, it may have helped inadvertently from a branding standpoint, it’s certainly more memorable for a metal band then a lot of other choices.
What are your musical influences for the ‘Mongrel’s Light’ record, how would you describe the unique sound of this album?
We pulled from so many different places on this album. Some influences are almost bizarrely disconnected from the final product. Just to rattle off some bands, HEALTH, Black Anvil, Prurient, Cobalt, A Pregnant Light, Cattle Decapitation, La Dispute.
We had some trouble knowing exactly how to bill this album; blackened grind, blackened hardcore, post black… they all seem a disingenuous and at least a little inaccurate. It makes sense why people want genres as a point of reference- but we were pretty happy feeling like the end result wasn’t something that could be easily slotted into anything other than “extreme” metal.
The album feels like a very bleak expression that must have been fed by something of the surroundings or such. What inspired this album? Is there an element of dislike for the urban environment to it?
There certainly is, ha. When we started Gilded Lily, Jordi and I had both just moved back to our hometown of Barrie, it’s an exceedingly average, midsize, conservative Canadian city. The real motivator for me when writing was of course, my personal life- but also the city’s relentless banality, its dumb contentment, the petty criminality.
I don’t necessarily dislike the urban environment itself. I can’t claim some close affinity to nature after being born and raised in the city, but this album at least stays focused on the malaise and ugly aspects of suburban life.
As with anything that’s an artistic statement, the viewpoint is entirely the artists- perhaps someone else could write an album about the same city and it would be a sunny-sounding affair praising it. As it stands however, negativity and specific visions of Barrie and fenced dogs are the main motivators behind the album’s themes.
I was curious how you craft your songs, since the amazing lyrics seem to be at the core of things. How do you go about making and recording the music, who has which role?
The writing process generally begins with my lyrics, the themes being established and the album being sketched out conceptually. After we have the “tone” of each song established, Jordi just hammers out riffs and ideas and begins to piece them together. After the whole album was demoed out we each took two weeks to just listen to the album over and over and draft up a bunch of notebooks, and then just edited out every piece of the album that didn’t 100% hold its own to put ears.
We’re both very respectful of each other’s talents and process, and this album was the most we’ve ever challenged each other or vetoed anything the other has done. I revised my lyrics dozens of times and Jordi had me cut some entirely. And I made Jordi go through four different version of Glass In St. Mary’s Lot until it was at a place where I was happy with it as well.
Pushing each other’s creativity seems to be a big part of why this album felt so successful to us.
Your approach to black metal (if we can call the style of music that) seems to be very eclectic and I feel a kinship with groups like Sun Worship who’ve approached BM from a more artistic and aesthetic viewpoint. Is that the case for Gilded Lily?
I’m not sure we have any kinship with anyone based on style. There are so many bands out there that it would be hard to feel a based solely on the merit of looking or sounding similar. There’s a kinship with other artists or bands we have a working relationship or mutual respect with- Terzij de Horde, It Only Gets Worse, A Pregnant Light, Cara Neir. People who write and create similarly and seem to take the same approach to music’s importance.
That said, not to be too dismissive, Sun Worship are an excellent band and we all really enjoyed their last two records.
Can you tell me about Lion’s Jawbone? Why did you start your own label?
Vanity mostly. We really believe in what we do, and even if no one else did- we both wanted a little platform on which we would be able to display our work and projects on our own terms. To be frank neither of us really wants the hassle that is inherent with a label, so we keep things extremely barebones. It’s essentially just to give a voice to our stuff and retain control of how it’s presented.
Why are there so many good bm bands coming from Canada? And is it me or is there some abject to civilization, society and the urban environment to it? What do you think are the unique ingredients your surroundings offer that influence that sound.
It seems Canadian bands have a wide swath of influences and space to grow themselves. A band in Calgary is a day and a half of non stop driving away from us, so it’s very removed and disconnected. As such, aside from hearing the records and catching an occasional show, there’s no communal mentality to influence our stuff. The mentality is just do your own thing and own it.
We’re left to our own devices and to pursue our ideas down rabbit holes as far as we can.
Of course there’s exceptions, Quebec has an incredible and incestuous black metal scene and inversely, a lot of Canadian acts seems to have a goofy proclivity to folkish / melodic stuff that we can’t get down with. At the end of the day though, a lot of the gems that shine through seem to exemplify that aforementioned mentality.
What does the future hold for Gilded Lily?
Currently we’re recording a new EP, we have a split and a collaborative release with two different bands in the early stages as well. Eventually writing for a new full length I suppose too; we spread ourselves thin and work slowly as a result. Lots of moving pieces.
Finally, if you had to describe your band as a dish, what would it be and why?
Damn, this is a odd one to answer. Musically we’re a hodgepodge of elements kind of thrown together that only make sense as a whole. So maybe a soup? A burrito? A pierogi? Salad’s probably too boring. Would have to be a jazzed ass salad.
Ancient Rome has spoken to the imagination of many artists. The fine arts as well as the popular arts. With films filled with brave warriors, great battles and the grandeur and decadence of old. The theme has been sorely under exposed in metal though with rare bands like ExDeo (featuring Kataklysm members) or the mild influence on others Alea Jacta Est (a French hardcore band).
Ade is a breath of fresh air in this little niche with a death metal album that will rattle the Collosseum. Think Nile or Behemoth, but definitely also a bit of that approach of Ex Deo and you have an inkling of the sheer brutallity of this technically endowed band. The group puts the sheer grandeur of the Roman empire in their sound and like with others, it really works.
Ofcourse the result is a bit theatrical and reeks of Bolt Thrower, but how else can you make a song about the most warlike nation ever? That must have been what this group from the eternal city of Rome thought themselves too. The trick is putting those female vocals and strange sounds into your music, but it works smoothy and balanced on this record that features a lot of Carthaginian themes. The title tells you enough, but a song like ‘Annibalem’ obviously refers to the famed general.
The music is complex, but clean sounding and therefor a lot of fun to listen to. It carries the vibe of battle, of intensity and frantic riffing. The vocals are brutal, either deep grunts or guttural barks, even more so setting the vibe that you want on a record like this. The stop-go bursts of guitar work are razor sharp, but so is the build up in some songs, all praising Mars. Blistering and dazzling, but always heavy as fuck, with those martial pounding rhythms and mighty horns. You can imagine the stamped of the war elephants, atleast I can.
You really don’t need to be a tech-head to set your teeth into this recording of fine, catchy death metal. Sure, it packs a punch, but due to the clean production and highly entertaining variety, it’s a fun record to really get into for pretty much anyone who digs the heavy hitters.
It’s been a ride for Caïna with their special kind of black metal. The band has bene active for a good decade now and seems to blend together different sounds into their own production. Their latest album is a testament to a unique sound.
No two albums bij Caïna have been the same and so this record is a welcome change. Though heavily connected to the punk scene, a testament of that may be their recent split release with Esotheric Youth, this record appears to take on more of that old black metal vibe… but that´s only if you sample some tracks.
Towards the end of track 3, ´Fumes of God´, we start hearing the strange synths. Were they there all the time? If you listen closely, maybe they were because the post black metal elements are clearly somewhere hidden. The song following, titled ‘Throat of the World’, is a track full of harrowing ambient-like efforts. The band received support by Belgian horror soundtrackers Vermapyre for this effort. It’s a highly effective in setting the mood with its banging, clanging haunted house effects.
It’s not the only time the band incorporates noise elements, on ‘Pillars of Salt’ the noise artist Warren Schoenbright is added to the club to create a wild, almost jazzy like track. A bit KingCrimson playing freejazz on a cemetary I suppose. When the gentlemen of Caïna are not frolicking about with these intermezzo’s, the sound is thunderous, overwhelming and bleak. It’s music that feels like an icy blaze of sonic hail. Add to that a flavor of gothy new wave elements, because there’s stuff happening all the time on this album. It reminds me of Taake and Nihill alike, complete chaos!
There’s plenty of influences on this album that allows the group to tell its story. Industrial and noise are part of the modern day wasteland that seems to be expressed in their work. Add to that wild vocals that range from guttural to piercing, always unnerving the listeners. This is one hell of a record and I don’t think I’ll tire of this one anytime soon.
Through some numeric fails by myself, this is the last sounds of the underground in the old form with Astronoid, Monoliths, Vukari & Void Omnia. After this, reviews will appear solo, just one band at the time.
Astronoid – Air Blood Music
Don’t confuse these guy with the heavy stoner/doom band from Sweden, this is a different kind of tune. Self described as a band playing dream thrash, Astronoid hails from Groveland in the United States, near the national parks in California. The group takes their inspiration from atmospheric groups like Alcest, Windir and Jesu to create their very own sound. Lofty, open and warm it’s music to immerse in. The art work gives away and predetermines your experience slightly I believe. The air and wind swept rocks give something mountainous and wide to the music. Enough bumbling, lets dig in.
Fast paced with high notes and the occasional lofty bit of blast beats, the band reminds you in a way of Deafheaven with an emo singer on vocals (not in a negative way). Expressive, clean vocals that sound like they could be part of a Yellowcard song. It makes for a strangely accessible bit of music with a continuously soaring, high feeling to it. That actually gives quite some varied tunes, like the minimal start for the gentle intermezzo ‘Violence’, that feels like trickling sound, well dosed and reduced to a minimum to merely support the vocals. The next track offers a full on battery of bombastic music. But it never gets bombastic, it always remains a bit shoegazey, even reminding you of that Angels & Airwaves sound. I know, that might not sound complimentory, but its ment that way still. It’s a magical record, hard to place, but magical anyways.
Monoliths – Monoliths Dry Cough Records
Monoliths hails from Nothingham, therefor being from the proximity of whatever earth vein is the cause of all the heavy stuff coming from that part of the world. The band myth is that they started playing and the sound that come forth evolved in a most natural manner, it’s just what it is and played with full conviction without a plan and without premeditation. Remarkable fact is that James Plotkin took care of the mastering (known from Khanate and OLD). It says a lot about the qualities and strength of this young band.
To describe the music of these three musicians as monolithic would be the biggest understatement you could make. The collossal riffs are like a force of nature, smashing through everything with its might. Two tracks are presented, of which the first is ‘Perpetual Moon’. A scorching, distortion riddled session of gargantuan guitar work and earth shaking drums. It really is just riffs and pounding, endlessly all the way to the end times. ‘The Omnipresence of Emptiness’ is even more reminiscent of the high and mighty Sleep with its stretched out sound and meanderings. The hypnotic endless repetition is switched to a new speed at just the right time. It’s amazing to see how well the band manages to pull the right stuff out of their big wizard hats to sound menacing and dark. What an overwhelming debut.
Vukari – Divination Bindrune Recordings
The band Vukari hails from Illinois’ Chicago and has been around for a few years. This is their second full length in their obscure and very own branch of black metal with dense atmospheres. The group likes adressing conceptual issues in their music, which is an interesting and fresh take on the genre. In the ranks we find plenty of musical experience. Most notably drummer Mike DeStefano, who has been working live with Abigail Williams. For the rest it’s a background in all sort of genres like deathcore (I Killed Everyone), thrash (Eternal Vomit) and stoner (Horseburner). All that seems to fade when this band is gathered to make their own sound.
The band plays a sound that can really only be described as what it is. Atmospheric black metal, but the pace is rather intense on most of the songs. There’s some dense postrock inspiration audible in the repetitive sound of these guys, remniscent of the more loud groups as if Russian Circles meets Altar of Plagues or such. At some points when the rolling heavy rhythm section is really being synced with the gruff vocals of Marek Cimochowicz one can almost feel the Isis vibe of heavy post metallic thunder. Peaking is what the band does on ‘Sovereignity Through Extreme Tyranny’, the guttural, decaying vocals and the down pour of melancholic guitar riffing offers a truly majestic experience. Grand and spun out, this song is I think the best representative of Vukaria’s sound, which is deeply atmospheric, warm and as foggy as the cover featuring a man on a boat in the mist. It matches and feels like a complete package. Dream away with this.
Void Omnia – Dying Light Vendetta Records
Void Omnia is a relatively young black metal band from Oakland in the United States with ties to various bands, most notably the massive sounding Tombs. Other bands that members have been active in are slightly lesser known Infinite Waste, Apocryphon, MutilationRites and many more. Most succesfull one could say, has been their bass player Justin Ennis who was in Tombs and MR. The bleak sounding band has released their first full length now and its a tough bit of music. I was mostly attracted to it thanks to it’s indecipherable logo, which was a bit different to me. Also the cover with a priest-like figure facing cosmic chaos is intriguing and captivating instantly, speaking to something in the unconscious I suppose, about Elder gods?
The cover is done by Glenn Schonn. It’s that chaotic vision, that allows you to really enter the realm of madness that is the sound of Void Omnia.’Remanence of a Ghost Haunt’ starts of with a rapid pace and blistering guitar work, though the rhythms feel almost folky (though on a different kind of drugs). Screeched vocals and a dense, technical mixture of instruments offers a layered cake of flavors for the listener. It’s sometimes almost Dragonforce like, how the blast beats and relentless speed combine, but then it settles down a bit to speak of mountainous landscapes with an uncanny intensity. The frantic pace of the record and sudden stop-go moments, like on the hatchet like ‘Singularity’ are a bit much and even though the band shows its technical prowess, it’s an exhausting listening experience, but rewarding.